Without a ‘Net

By Anna Sachse

Posted July 30, 2009 in Mind Body Spirit

Nowadays if someone wants to get a hold of us, they can call, text, Twitter, Facebook, email or instant message. And thanks to the portable nature and Internet-ability of cell phones and laptops, there’s pretty much nowhere that we can’t be found. That’s a good thing when timely, important things happen, like you’re late to a business meeting or your car breaks down on the lonely road to Vegas or a freaky celebrity dies and you need to know all the details. But it’s a bad thing when it stresses us out, distracts us from our goals, stifles creativity and serves as a constant stand-in for face-to-face human interaction.


Luckily the solution is as easy as pressing a power button and/or unplugging a cord. 


Here are five reasons why it’s occasionally good to go dark: 


1. It can make you more productive. Even though you’ve spent the entire day “working” at your desk, there’s a good chance some of that computer time was spent reading up on Dodgers stats at www.espn.com, the latest snark at www.dlisted.com or all the awesomeness at www.fupenguin.com. Or maybe you returned a few phone calls from friends, or emails or Twitter posts. Add it all up and you probably wasted way more time than you think. According to a 2005 study conducted by AOL and www.salary.com,  44.7 percent of the 10,044 respondents indicated that the number one way they fritter away time at work is personal Internet use (email, IM, online polls, interactive games, message boards, chat rooms, etc.)—to the tune of 2.09 hours a day. Shut it all down for a few hours and you might actually get something done.


2. It can make you more creative. Turning off your technology allows you the stimuli-free time and space to rethink issues and be more imaginative with your solutions. There have been many times when I was on a deadline and tethered myself to my computer, only to stare at the screen for hours, unable to write even one complete paragraph. But every time I’ve given up and gone for a 30 minute run, the right words have come to me instantly. There is a whole world of inspiration outside of your office.


3. It can help you relax. Most Americans have the mindset that you always have to be go, go going or do, do doing. But turn off your technology at home and even if you wanted to be productive, you can’t. Try turning off your iPod and the television too, and instead read a book, go for a walk or just lie on the floor and indulge in flights of fancy. Think of it as wiping and then reinstalling your brain.


4. It can help you be more successful. Technology frequently has us at the whim of other people’s needs. You respond to their emails, texts, posts, instant messages and voicemails, which sucks up your time and usually just leads to a larger “To do” list. But turning it all off forces you to think about your own needs, including your interests, feelings and dreams. Putting yourself at the forefront of your mind will make you more likely to enact the changes you need to achieve your own goals.  


5. It can make you a better person. At his commencement address at the University of Pennsylvania in May, Google chairman and chief executive Eric Schmidt told the 2009 graduates that they should turn off their computers. “You’re actually going to have to turn off your phone and discover all that is human around us,” he added. Stop talking to voices and start chatting with real people. You might make some new friends, or strengthen the relationships with the ones you already have.


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